What makes Portugal a particularly fascinating travel destination is the legacy of the discovery voyages and the greatness lost after them.
There are plenty of wonderful things to do in Portugal. The country is small in terms of territory but immense in tourist possibilities, such as historic villages, charming beaches, regions famous for wine production/ wine tasting tours, and several peculiar destinations, each with its highlight and charm.
Portugal is fairly compact, so you can see a lot in just a week’s vacation. In a two-week trip, you have time to travel around a large part of the country.
To help you escape the monotonous work life, here are the 15 Best Things to do in Portugal.
19 Must-Experience Activities in Portugal
1. Lisbon – Europe’s Friendliest Capital City
Despite its handsome history, Lisbon is far from pompous. Lisbon is one of the nicest capitals in Europe. It’s a city with a shabby atmosphere of small yellow trams, grilled sardines, and tile decorations that borrowed their patterns from grandfather’s kilts.
Of course, there are also great sights in Lisbon, such as Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower, reminiscent of the time of the expeditions. However, the cozy districts of Lisbon, each of which has its look, will remain in the traveler’s mind the best.
Lisbon is also one of the few European capitals that is easy to combine with a beach vacation. The beach resorts of Estoril and Cascais are just over half an hour away by train, and a little further away is the wonderful Praia de Adraga.
1.1 Do they speak English in Lisbon?
Portuguese is the primary language of Lisbon. However, most people who work in the tourism sector also speak English fluently. There won’t be any linguistic barriers for travelers traveling to Lisbon or the nearby shore.
1.2 What is the best time to go to Lisbon?
Because the weather is still mild, hotel rates are lower, and there are fewer tourists than in the summer, March to May or September to October are the finest times to visit Lisbon. You might also be able to get in a couple of beach days at those times of the year. Temperatures are high, and the beaches are packed in the summer.
2. Óbidos- The Traditional Wedding Gift of Portuguese Queens
How would it feel to receive a whole village as a wedding gift? Located just over an hour north of Lisbon, Obidos is called Vila das. Rain, the town of the queens, because the medieval village protected by a beautiful castle, has been part of the dowries of many Portuguese queens.
In July, a medieval market is held in Obidos for a week, when the fortified village and its surroundings become like a time travel to the age of knights with tournaments.
Off the coast of Obidos are the fishing town of Peniche, known for its long beaches, surf waves, and an old fortress that served as a political prison during the old Salazar dictatorship.
It is a small and charming medieval village located 80 kilometers from Lisbon. For five centuries, the town was part of the dowry of Portuguese queens.
But, today, it can be said that the grace of the village is in the details: all the buildings are white with colored bands, there are flowers in the windows, a castle of Roman origin, and a 14th-century wall that surrounds the entire village – and it is possible to walk on the part of it, a walk that guarantees beautiful views.
Not to mention the handicraft shops and the sour cherry stands, the traditional drink in Óbidos. Half a day is spent in this charming destination that can be reached on a day trip from Lisbon.
2.1 Is it better to drive or take the train from Lisbon to Porto?
3. Calm Blue Sea at Serra da Arrábida
The beaches of Serra da Arrábida are a treasure practically hidden from tourists – all less than 50 kilometers from Lisbon.
Unlike the beaches of Cascais, the most frequented by Lisbon people, there is not much infrastructure – just enough for a day at the beach without hunger or thirst.
What is at stake in this stretch of the Portuguese coast is something beyond: the virtually untouched nature. The scenario is a hillside full of green contrasting with a transparent, calm sea in bluish tones.
4. Portugal’s Lovely Pousadas
The salt of Portugal’s tourism is the lovely, traditional Pousadas built by the Portuguese, usually at spectacular vantage points. Old castles and mansions have also been converted into inns.
The most beautiful of Portugal’s pousadas is Pousada Castelo Estremoz, located in Estremoz, Alentejo. The inn operates in a castle built in the 13th century, the home of King Dinis and his wife Isabel, who was declared a saint in the 14th century.
The explorer Vasco da Gama visited the castle in 1498 to collect King Manuel I’s gifts for the King of Calcutta before sailing to India.
The castle has great staircases and handsome furniture. However, the appearance of the court is mostly from the 18th century, when a large part of the castle had to be rebuilt after a devastating fire.
However, what remains of the old castle is, for example, the room where St. Isabel died in 1336. The space serves as a small chapel.
You can find the Pousada Convento de Tavira, a former convent converted into a hotel with a lovely courtyard and a good swimming pool.
5. Visiting The Algarve
The Algarve, which comprises the southern part of Portugal, is Portugal’s sunny coast, whose sandy beaches are among the finest in Europe. The most beautiful of the beaches is Praia da Bordeira.
While Albufeira, the most popular package travel destination in the Algarve, is full of tower hotels and a tourist center atmosphere.
Still, the Algarve also has a sympathetic local atmosphere, for example, in the small town of Tavira. You should forget the big hotel complexes in Tavira and look for an atmospheric place to stay, such as the bohemian Tavira House or the Pousada Convento de Tavira, a former monastery converted into a hotel.
The place now has a museum and a backdrop of cliffs, and a wide horizon perfect for watching a sunset like that. A great program for the late afternoon in the Algarve! It is worth taking a tour of the beaches of southern Portugal.
Even if you don’t care about a beach holiday, it’s worth driving to the Algarve to see the impressive St. Vicente Cape, where Europe ends – and where the 15th-century voyages of discovery began.
6. Visiting The Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is a set of cliffs sculpted by the sea and the wind. It is located on one of the ends of Lagos, a charming city in the Algarve.
It attracts tourists who want to take boat trips along the Algarve coast – or who, in the late afternoon, want to admire one of the most beautiful Portuguese landscapes during the last rays of the sun. The golden cliffs, caverns, caves, and emerald-green sea are breathtaking! Day.
6.1 Can you swim Ponta de Piedade?
It is the ideal location for a fun boat cruise because of the surrounding crystal blue waterways. You may explore the coastline and take pleasure in swimming in the azure seas on this Ponta da Piedade trip with swimming.
6.2 How many steps at Ponta da Piedade?
After parking the car, all that’s left to do is down the 128 stairs to one of Ponta da Piedade’s bays (also known as Ponta da Piedade’s Beach).
7. Surfing at Praia da Dona Ana
Praia da Dona Ana is one of the busiest in Lagos and one of the best beaches in the Algarve. The region’s most classic scenery: golden cliffs and the blue-green sea. The view is beautiful from the top of the wooden staircase leading to the beach. Going down, you can see the rock formations even closer – some are in the middle of the sea.
Portugal is the best surfing destination in Europe. Good waves can already be found next to Lisbon, for example, on the beach of the picturesque village of Ericeira, painted in blue and white colors, located 35 kilometers from Lisbon.
Half an hour by train from Lisbon, the sandy beach of Carcavelos is a popular place to learn to surf. The most popular surfing destination is Peniche, where you can find waves for many tastes. Peniche is located an hour and a half from Lisbon.
Next to Peniche is Nazaré, where the world’s best surfers have been breaking surfing record after another in recent years, riding 30-meter waves.
A gigantic, undersea canyon generates giant waves in front of Nazaré, which has a depth of no less than five kilometers and a length of 230 kilometers.
For those who enjoy a good day at the beach, Dona Ana’s is inviting for even more reasons: it has kiosks selling food and drinks, a chair, an umbrella, and a kayak rental service.
7.1 Can you swim Ponte de Piedade?
The opportunity to snorkel or swim in crystal-clear sea waters may depend on the tour. Both tours set out from Lagos’ Batata Beach and paddle 2 kilometers to the Ponta da Piedade.
8. Porto – a Trip to the City of Wines
Where the Atlantic coast and the Douro Rivers meet in the northern parts of Portugal lies the leisurely beauty of Porto, the country’s second-largest city. The historic center of Porto, the Ribeira, rising spectacularly from the banks of the Douro River, has been declared one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ribeira do Porto Hotel offers affordable – but stylish – accommodation in the Ribeira area.
Ribeira can be admired from above from the magnificent Dom Luis bridge over the Douro River, designed by Gustave Eiffel’s student. There are wonderful places to stay on the riverside, such as the apartment hotel Oporto Trendy River, which is suitable for families or larger groups of friends.
Along with the Ribeira and the bridge, Porto’s attractions include Livraria Lello, perhaps the world’s most beautiful bookstore from 1881, a pilgrimage place for every literature lover. The stylish hostel Gallery Hostel Porto is located near the bookstore Lello, which is decorated with the works of local artists.
Among the sights of modern architecture in Porto is the concert hall Casa da Musica, which is considered one of the masterpieces of the hero architect Rem Koolhaas.
Porto’s most famous attraction, however, seems to be the city’s port wine cellars, where you can taste the city’s strong name wine. Porto Views & Wines apartment hotel is an excellent accommodation for wine lovers.
9. Praia do Carvalho- An Archipelago on The Edge of The World
Praia do Carvalho is so beautiful that, even without structure and a little hidden, it is one of the most visited in the Algarve. It’s like a rocky “U“; in the middle, there’s a beach of fine sand, a sea of incredible color, and gravel just ahead.
10. Trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys
The Sete Vales Suspensos trail is one of the most beautiful walks in the Algarve, perfect for those who like to take long walks with stunning views. It is possible to make the entire journey, which takes about three hours or choose just one section.
Although it is close to the slopes of the cliffs, the whole route is safe and easy to do – there are few ascents and descents. One of the most beautiful stretches is between Praia de Benagil (it is possible to see the Algar de Benagil from above) and Praia da Marinha, passing over Praia da Corredoura. By the way, get to know the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve.
10.1 How long is the seven-hanging valleys trail?
Path of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. The journey is 6 km in one direction, but your total distance may be greater if you stroll to other vantage sites and descend to the beaches. I traveled a total of 7 kilometers.
10.2 How hard is the Seven Falls hike?
It takes an average of 1 hour and 46 minutes to accomplish this route, which is typically considered moderately difficult. Since hiking is highly popular in this region, you can run into other hikers while doing your exploration. The route is lovely to explore anytime and is open all year.
10.3 How many steps is7 fall?
Visitors must climb a 224-step stairway to get to the top. The views are breathtaking once you reach the summit. The area above the falls is home to two more hiking routes.
11. Faro- Know about The Arabs and Portugals
It is one of the largest cities in the Algarve and has museums, historic churches, restaurants, shops, and bookstores. Faro is bathed by the Ria Formosa, a transitional environment between the river and the sea where it is possible to take boat trips.
Although it is not the most sought-after destination by bathers during the Portuguese summer, Faro is a full plate for those who love history. We recommend a city walk tour to discover more of the Arab influence in southern Portugal.
12. Read Rare Books at the University of Coimbra
Visiting Portugal and not The Library at Coimbra is a regret for a lifetime. Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra is one of the world’s oldest continuously operating universities. Coimbra university’s library, Biblioteca Joanina, is one of the most beautiful in the world.
It is appropriate to thank King Juhana V Jalomiel of Portugal for the glory of the library, who, after seeing the budget set aside for building the library, told the university rector that the budget was too modest. It’s no wonder that Juhana came to be known as Jalomielen.
The king had no shortage of small change, as large gold reserves had recently been discovered in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, and an incredibly luxurious library was built.
But Coimbra is not just about history, as the university is still one of the most important in Portugal. And where there are students, there is also lively nightlife.
Portugal’s other wonderful, old library can be found in the megalomaniac palace of Mafra, whose construction work took an average of 15,000 workers a day for 13 years at the beginning of the 18th century. The library room, decorated in a dazzling rococo style, is 88 meters long.
A World Heritage Site, the University of Coimbra brings together knowledge, architecture, history, and curiosity in one place.
A full plate for visitors! Depending on the tickets purchased, it is possible to visit the Paço Real, the Capela de São Miguel, the famous Joanina Library, the Chemical Laboratory, and the Colégio de Jesus, where the Experimental Physics and Natural History offices are located. Although the University of Coimbra is the main attraction, the city still offers more. We think it is worth visiting the Convento de Santa Clara-a-Velha and having a fancy dinner at Zé Manel dos Ossos.
13. Chapel of Bones of Évora
The Capela dos Ossos, in the Church of São Francisco, is the most famous tourist spot in Évor.
And there’s a clear reason: its walls are lined with more than 5,000 skulls and other types of bones from the catacombs of the city’s cemeteries and convents. And there’s more. Just above the entrance door of the chapel is inscribed the following sentence:
“We bones that are here for yours are waiting.” Macabre? Somewhat. But the intention of the Franciscan monks who built the chapel in the 17th century was to draw attention to the transience of life. And it worked.
Évora Cathedral is the largest medieval cathedral in Portugal. Completed in 1204, all in granite, the Cathedral marks the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic period. Inside are some of the most beautiful examples of gilded carving (a technique in which the wood, after being carved, is coated with gold foils).
The interior is gorgeous, but the view from the top is unbeatable. From there, it is possible to see the whole city and the wide fields of Alentejo.
One of the most famous Portuguese villages is 22 km from Évora, towards the Portuguese border with Spain. Monsaraz is on top of a hill, hand as a single main street and a few dozen white houses, which house its approximately 100 inhabitants.
It doesn’t take more than a few hours to tour the village, visit the castle and walls built in the 14th cent,ury and admire the view of the Alqueva Dam.
A good option for those who are spending a few days in Évora and want to know more about the Alentejo is to include the Herdade do Esporão winery in the itinerary!
14.1 How old is Monarrez?
It was constructed in the 14th century by King Dinis and is recognized as a Portuguese National Monument.
14.2 How do you get to Monsaraz, Portugal?
However, if you prefer to go by train, head to Lisbon’s Entrecampos train station and board a train bound for Évora. From Évora, you’ll need to take a taxi to Monsaraz. You should ask the driver for a charge upfront because it should take approximately an hour.
15. Tomar of the Knights Templar
Tomar is one of Portugal’s most fascinating travel destinations for history buffs, especially those interested in the Knights Templar. In the 12th century, the Convento de Cristo, a castle-like monastery of Christ, was built in Tomar as a base for the Knights Templar.
When the Catholic Church abolished the order of Ordernights Templar at the beginning of the 14th century, the Knights Templar of Tomar became the Order of Christ, which played a significant role in the Portuguese expeditions in the 15th century. For example, Vasco da Gama was a member of the Order.
WhOrdersco da Gama discovered the sea route to India, the order’s Forder’s cross on a white background flew in the sails of his flagship, the Sao Gabriel. In addition to its monastery fortress, Tomar has also preserved its beautiful historical atmosphere.
A perfect blend of a quaint town, cobbled streets, and natural beauty, you are undoubtedly part of the beautiful and traditional continental Europe when you visit Portugal.
Its house many tourist attraction like the Unesco world heritage site or popular sites like Torre de belém, the Atlantic Ocean, the roman temple, a natural park, and Douro valley.
We hope that armed with the knowledge above, you will make your vacation to Portugal more worthwhile and memorable. There are many other incredible places you visit on your trip too that you can only find on your trip there.
So, what are you waiting for? Embark on this incredible journey today.